If you have recently moved to Iceland (as I have), or are considering the move, here are some thoughts and suggestions to consider (most of which I am still trying to implement myself):
Firstly, be kind to yourself and be patient. Moving to a new country is a big change and even bigger challenge. Leaving behind your home, family, friends, job, and familiar surroundings is tough. You come to Iceland…a new country, different culture, difficult language, unfamiliar surroundings, with a limited support network, probably unemployed and trying to survive in this incredibly expensive country, whilst battling the unpredictable weather conditions. It’s tough! With all this to juggle, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get a job within “x” number of weeks or any other expectations like that.
Most importantly, try to learn Icelandic – this will be your key to integrating, and will definitely help you secure a good job. I am a qualified Psychologist back in my home country of Australia, but because I only speak pinulitla islensku, I am finding it difficult to obtain a professional, well-paying job here in Iceland. At least initially, non-Icelandic speaking foreigners may need to consider working in kindergartens, aged care facilities, restaurants, bars or cafés. However, if you have a high degree of expertise in things such as computer programming, engineering or other science-based occupations, this will increase your chances of obtaining work with a good income.
I also suggest diving head first into Icelandic life. Get to know the locals… Go to the heated swimming pools… Undertake a sport or hobby… Join a hiking group… Go to the bars and cafés… Whatever… but do something. Loneliness and depression can become your closest companions, especially when you feel isolated, vulnerable and out of your comfort zone – so take charge!
Stay strong mentally and always keep an open mind. You are in Iceland for a reason or purpose, but expect the unexpected (this is the land of fire and ice, after all). You may hit a few speed bumps along your journey but remember… it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you perceive it. All the frustration and challenges are laying the foundation for newfound learning, understanding and growth. As my good friend Anthony Robbins says, “What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability, it is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.
Some final thoughts… Maintain a sense of humour… Don’t take things too personally… and stay in touch with family and friends back home. Enjoy your stay!